Senate blocks debate of clean energy tax credits

Amazing. (link to article) (Previously discussed at TOD here.)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked debate of a bill to offer about $17.7 billion in tax incentives for consumers to build renewable energy sources like windmills and solar arrays, and buy plug-in cars that run on electricity rather than gasoline.

The Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act of 2008 would have extended a tax credit to build windmills by one year through December 31, 2009, and extend for three years similar credits for renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and trash combustion.

So they can talk about steroids in Baseball and whether or not a seated president can get action on the side but this they can't talk about? These guys are paid to debate right? Can we get this on a referendum? I bet the public would go for it from both parties...........

This is the sort of thing that reinforces my belief that U.S. energy policy is completely dysfunctional.

RR hey hows life? Hope its good. Anyway why don't we have a commission of economists, engineers and scientists that run energy policy the way the Fed is run by accountants. Changing energy policy whimsically every 4 years is why companies don't invest long term. Megaprojects would get funding privately if the tax/political environment could be anticipated long term.

RR hey hows life? Hope its good.

Hey, I was about to ask the same of you. Still in Brazil?

I have been in the Netherlands almost full-time this year, but right now I am in Montana preparing for a move to Dallas. We have a 20-hour drive in front of us on Thursday and Friday. For the next year, I am probably looking at a rotation of 2 weeks over there and two weeks at home.

You are spot on about changing energy policy every few years. Companies can't make long-term investments in that climate. It has been that way for oil companies for many years. If you have to make a multi-billion dollar investment, and you have an ever-shifting energy policy hanging over your head, what do you do? Proceed very cautiously. Then, when you don't invest as aggressively as the government felt you should, they demonize you.

I moved back from BR....Stateside going to med school.

Cheers Robert! We can thank Republicans for this one. That and a lot of propaganda about the US being able to drill its way to energy independence.

This is the sort of thing that reinforces my belief that U.S. energy policy is completely dysfunctional.

That is because the US political system is completely dysfunctional. It isn't just energy, it is just about everything touched by the FedGov.

Dysfunctional political systems don't just go on and on forever. The unfixed problems accumulate, and sooner or later a tipping point is hit. The dysfunctional system is then swept into the dustbin of history, and the society moves on with a different system.

People just assume that the existing U.S. political system will continue on forever. They fail to realize that no political system ever does, and the U.S. political system is already one of the oldest on earth. We might very well have a political "Black Swan" in our future, maybe even our near future.

There wouldnt be anything wrong with the US political system if it functioned as envisioned by the founding fathers.

What cannot go on forever is a debt and inflation based system where the military contractors own the media that tells the citizenry that they need to go further and further and further into debt to pay for all these bloated military budgets so that the dumbed down citizenry can feel protected from mythical boogymen in caves. This system is more absurd than having an elephant packed into the corner of everyone's living room. Yet because people trust without discernment, they allowed themselves to be trained to accept this. The lies, the propaganda, the intellectual warfare and subjugation that is required to keep this system running is exacting a huge toll on this country and this planet.

It takes ingenuity and freedom of thought to solve the problems facing the world today. But it is not possible to function in such an absurd system if you possess these traits. That is why humanity will eventually extinct itself if it does not dismantle this "military industrial complex". This system is literally stampeding humanity off the edge of a cliff. Like the buffalo hunters did. And despite the amazing wealth of information available on sites like these, the system is more powerful now than at any point in history. There is no point in talking about peak oil to the average american, because they just dont care about anything except what makes them "feel good". If you cant figure out a way to deprogram them from a lifetime of propaganda, then there is no point in talking to them at all. They cannot be helped, they cannot be saved until you undo the damage caused by years of military industrial complex mind control.

This system is not something I would call "American" in any way.

There wouldnt be anything wrong with the US political system if it functioned as envisioned by the founding fathers.

Where male land owners had the right to vote?

Or perhaps the part before the whiskey rebellion?

It takes ingenuity and freedom of thought to solve the problems facing the world today.

And a willingness to accept that, while one may be unique like a snowflake, you are but an cog in the machine - a cog that is quite replaceable.

Who's writing this script? Stephen King?

I have 1/4 acre of land. Is that enough for me to secede?

Peter Griffin did.

See the last page, Figure 17 of Robert Ayres on "Economic Growth and Cheap Oil",, i.e., with 3 projections of economic growth depending on efficiency.
Then read page 15, where he says:

"Our result suggest that at least the distinct possibility that US economic growth may peak, depending on the rate of increase of efficiency f in the future decades. The standard model, of course, implies that economic growth will continue indefinitely..."

Apparently enough senators prefer the lower line on Ayres' chart...

I wonder which would save the US more fossil fuel energy - stopping the 2 million immigrants we have each year, or continuing a credit that facilitates people putting up windmills and solar arrays in their backyards? In order for them to be equal in value I think the bill would have to encourage 2 million new people a year to produce enough energy from backyard renewables to equal 100% of the energy they consume each year. Or 4 million a year to get half. Or 8 million a year to produce a quarter of the energy they use from backyard renewables.

It reminds me of the article in which Tad Patzek suggested that talking about energy solutions without addressing population growth was like mopping the floors with the faucets still running. It also brings to mind Albert Bartlett's wonderful talk regarding mankinds' failure to understand the exponential function.

You need an analysis of cost effectiveness. What would it cost to stop all 2 million immigrants we have each year (accepting that figure)? It's not just an "equal value" question as you have it. It might turn out that stopping 2 million immigrants costs 100 billion dollars, while encouraging a reduction-in-demand of 0.66% nationally (the equivalent of 2 million people going off-grid) would cost 10 billion dollars.

Further, putting just 10 billion dollars towards tighter borders might be totally ineffective - as most border control measures have proved to be so far. So spending on energy efficiency might make sense even if coupled with relaxed immigration policies. Not saying that's so, just pointing out it's a more complex equation than you suggest.

FWIW, note that the article says:

The bill failed to garner enough votes to limit debate and move to a vote, leaving the fate of the clean-energy credits uncertain.

That makes it sound like a cloture motion that failed, i.e. it was filibustered.

Does anyone else think this was just another gimmicky straw man bill set up by the Democrats to be knocked down for political purposes? I actually took advantage of the tax credit on solar, without it, I would have never bought the system, it never delivered the savings promised nor did it work as advertised.

IBD says the USA has about 118 Billion barrels of untapped oil -- Why not just save the money and drill, refine and build nuclear power plants. If your religion is CO2 your saviour is nuclear -- If not, you be smoking something. As far as the global warming hoax is concerned, it's been thoroughly debunked on every point by real science.

If the sun doesn't wake up soon, been quiet since October 2005, why no one knows -- But we will all be finding out, cold is really bad, warm is good. Crop failures are following the quiet sun. Look at a weather map, see the cold fronts, they just keep coming. It's worse in the southern hemisphere.

Price too high, supply too low. Economics even a Democrat should be able to understand.

The purpose of The Oil Drum is to study the peaking of oil production which is what is limiting supply.

I recommend reading "Hubbert's Peak" by Kenneth S. Deffeyes. He shows the US conventional oil supply as hitting a maximum of 220 bbl and has a complete explanation of the math behind that prediction. As we are far past the half way point in oil production in the US, your estimate of 118 left to produce is far too high.

Absolutely. In all honesty the oil math on the Republican side is very fuzzy and overly optimistic. It's full of the same nonsense that continues to keep people in the dark on the issue of peak oil. Not that democrats are outspoken about the issue. But at least democrats are willing to take an honest shot at alternatives.

In any case, I've got to agree with RR above. The US energy policy is dysfunctional -- prey to party politicking and special interests. This most recent round, I'm certain, is something you can thank the oil industry for.

Your renewables didn't work? Funny, a lot of other folks have been really happy with theirs. You didn't get yours installed by those same Real Scientists who debunked Global Warming, did you? That might be a clue to the problem..

"Price too high, supply too low."
You think supply is too low now, just wait a few years! Priceless..

Look here folks.

This is what a Troll looks like.

From Wiktionary:

;A person who posts to a newsgroup, bulletin board, etc., in a way intended to anger other posters and to cause drama, or otherwise disrupt the group's intended purpose.

This post has been carefully crafted to invoke an emotional response.
Or he is really being sarcastic.(doubtful)

I guess T. Boone Pickens must be really happy that the govt. wont be subsidizing any more mega wind farms after his, assuming he made his move in time. Whether or not he made his move in time, I'm sure he's delighted that the US senate prefers to continue transferribg huge amounts of American wealth abroad. (/sarconol)

We are now transferring $600 billion [a year] out of the United States to a few friends and a hell of a bunch of enemies. I can tell you, we are paying for the war against ourselves."

AVFI 2008: T. Boone Pickens lays the future of oil and alternatives on the line

How much FF can x times $17.7billion replace, x being the fraction of the cost that the incentive covers?

TOD to Washington... TOD to Washington..... Washington..we have a problem .......Hello? .....Hello?....Is anybody there?...Congressman Bartlett?.......HELP!

Time to go bang your heads against a wall guys. Maybe if enough of you bang hard enough, they'll hear you. On the other hand they might just wonder, "Whats that noise?" and continue BAU.

Alan from the Islands

This bill has a ton of incentives: (scroll down to 6/12/08) - or like I did search for "Energy Independence" on the page

6/12/08 -- Baucus bill provides AMT relief, energy incentives, and host of individual and business tax extenders.
On June 12, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the "Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act of 2008," which he intends to offer as a substitute bill to H.R. 6049, "the Renewable Energy Job Creation Act," when the Senate proceeds to that legislation. Along with extending almost 50 tax provisions--including relief from the alternative minimum tax (AMT), renewable energy tax incentives, the research and development credit, and the state and local sales tax deduction--the Baucus-amended bill includes a $350 ($700 for married filing jointly) non-itemizer property tax deduction for 2008; a new credit for qualified plug-in electric drive vehicle (a $3,000 base credit, ...

Read on... maybe it's too much (it covers a lot of incentives)... does anyone know who stopped the debate?

I hope it wasn't back door shenanigans: previous bills have been silently fillibusted by the Republicans just telling Harry Reid - he then simply pulls the bill from debate. Apparently he can do that, at the very least delaying the bill, which may be just as bad:

From the article:

As Benen notes, the GOP has used the filibuster as a common tool on virtually every piece of significant legislation, all part of what Trent Lott described as their strategy: "The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail . . . and so far it's working for us."

I don't want to attack the GOP on a knee jerk reaction ... but that's my knee jerk assumption.

Shortly after the oil tax vote, Republicans blocked a second proposal that would extend tax breaks that have either expired or are scheduled to end this year for wind, solar and other alternative energy development, and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. Again Democrats could not get the 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

USA Today ran this piece. It looks like the tax breaks were separate from the windfall profits tax, so there is not even that excuse.

Jared Diamond notes in Collapse that one reason societies fail to take action and avoid collapse is that the changes necessary might unseat the current powers and so the changes are blocked, never happen, and the society as a whole goes down.

This is the same bill we discussed earlier and not one of the alternatives. I notice that some progress was made on ending debate (2 votes).

But, there are still 4 votes that have to change. I'd urge work on Collins (ME), Hagle (NE), Kyl (AZ), Specter (PA), Voinovich (OH) and Warner (VA). You all might find others among the rest of the Nays:

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Sununu (R-NH)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)


I called Warner last week. I'll pick up the phone again first thing tomorrow.

Thanks for the Heads Up, Chris.

Time to Dog Snowe some more. She voted Yay?

@(*$&%^$@(#$&!!! She's gonna be getting some Obits from Maine this Winter. It could get pretty rough.


Hi Bob,

Those are the NAY votes from the last cloture vote (44) and the same number voted NAY this time. I was guessing that things did not change in that list since the number did not change. In fact they have. The new list is up now and Collins (ME) switched to YEA. The extra NAY vote looks like it must have been Reid (NV) who whould have done that so that the measure could be brought up again. So, there has been more progress than I thought. Snowe voted YEA so it might make good sense to thank Snowe for getting it right the first time and Collins for getting with the program. Here is the link to the more recent vote:


One of the reasons we got our solar hot water and pv installed earlier this year was to make sure we got the Federal tax credit. We also got an interest free loan from our publicly owned utility (EWEB) to help pay for the solar hot water system.

In the late 80's/early 90s there were tax credits that helped pay for insulating homes. The 1950s era home we bought recently in Oregon was heavily insulated at that time and double-pane insulated windows installed. The previous owners were very much into conservation and growing their own food, and we benefit from their good stewardship of this property.


Extension of renewable energy credits was the most expensive portion of the bill, at about $7 billion over 10 years.

Are you kidding? We need that money to fund the Iraq war for the next three weeks!

We can't fund solutions, Cedar, only problems...

I'm not sure I agree about the costing of things in the bill. Supply side thinking has gotten us into big trouble in the past, but if there is one place where that kind of thinking might be valid, it is in renewables. If you push renewables to the point where they are cheaper than other forms of generation, you'll have a stimulative effect on the whole economy and revenue will increase in a much larger amount than the foregone amount now.

I can understand wanting to make a point about curbing the borrow-and-spend republicans through insisting that the bill be revenue neutral. But, borrow-and-invest is not fiscally irresponsible. In fact, not to do some of that is irresponsible. Tax-and-invest is also OK, but if it is limiting needed investment, and the future will be the beneficiary of the investment, one could be said to be failing in ones duty to the future not to do some borrowing. The problem comes when we are borrowing to pay current expenses: housekeeping sorts of things that should be payed for with current tax collection.

Not raising taxes during a war is also pretty bad for morale and can lead to loss of the war so it is better not to rely solely on borrowing to pay for a war. But, the tax increases in this bill are not the sort of tax increases that would lead our soldiers to feel that we are behind them, so they don't help out with that. The foregone revenue, on the other hand, does help with morale so far as I can tell since at least our soldiers will know that we don't intend to put them in an oil war again. This is mostly what I hear these days from officers: fix the energy problem and we won't be in these wars.


Political posturing becomes more strident at need.

We -- the USA --are engaged in a deliberate strategy of "Kill Off" in Iraq, we contemplate the same in Iran, and yet our political elite cover this with loud, loud debates about anything but what we are actually doing.

We --the USA -- are engaged in a deliberate strategy of denial. We refuse to tell ourselves the truth about the ecological or human costs of our energy consumption. Instead we construct elaborate, labyrinthine political games to distract us from the homicidal, eco-cidal, and ultimately suicidal course of action we take with regard to most of our species and with reqard to our planet.

A good, solid dose of reality occasionally slips through. For example Matt Simmons and T. Boone Pickens are allowed to hold forth briefly here and there. However even this will be turned into propaganda fodder for the the "Full Spectrum Global Dominance" War Machine.

If humans survive for another 50 years, it will be an actual miracle. Thank Mom Nature or thank God or The Universe.

While we continue to hone our skills at killing off our own species and countless others that make up the thin biological fabric upon which we depend absolutely, our leaders posture and preen.

The US Senate blocks debate of clean energy tax credits. Are we surprised?

Meanwhile, I recall wondering about the wisdom of relying on ethanol and biofuels as a significant source of liquid fuels to continue our current pattern of living here in the USA. One or two very bad crop years could be even more disastrous than if we were only relying on these crops for food. The political leadership of my state, however -- Democrat or Republican -- bowed to the will of corporatist agribusiness and supported this folly as though inspired by The God of Judeo-Christian Corporatism Himself.

One of my state's federal representatives -- one M. Bachman of Minnesota-- is proposing a "drill your way out of the problem" fix to bring the price of gas at the pump back down to 2.00 American Dollars per gallon.

Such people get elected to high office in the USA, and get very big bucks donated from all manner of Corporatist and Religio-fascist supporters.

On the one political hand:

"Kill and Drill for God and Country. The future be damned. There is no future."

On the other political hand:

"Kill and Drill for God and Country. The future is a techo-topia brought to us courtesy of the policies and Corporatist sponsors we pretend to oppose."

Real Change, remember, is always "off the table" in Washington, DC.

I disagree on humans surviving being a miracle.
I think it's inevitable. Human beings are resilient little buggers when faced with death. We have survived ice ages without modern technology for crying out loud. Sure, it can be rough.
Or what do you think about the theory that Type 1 diabetes developed in humans as a survival mechanism to survive in freezing temperatures. Sure, you'll die by the age of 25 but you'll survive that long because you have anti-freeze for blood.
Just imagine surviving under those conditions. Need I say that I have the utmost respect for my ancestors.

This is an extremely unfortunate time to be an American.

Looks like it's time for a pep talk! How about:

Talks Al Gore: New thinking on the climate crisis

About 17 and a half minutes into this talk, it gets pretty inspirational and whether you're red or blue, whether you believe in AGW or not, the gist of his talk is the challenges ahead present an equally massive opportunity to do the right things.

Anyone have a link that indicates which senators are responsible for curbing the renewable energy bill?

The NAYs in this list:

You can also find out who is running this year (and who is retiring) who might be persuaded to do the right thing.,_2008